There are a couple of new books around that are of interest. The first includes a very complimentary account by an LSE Professor on my insights in our work for Tony Blair in 2005, done while I was at Promise. Forget your worries about Tony himself and what he did – most of us have worked at one time or another on a brand or personality that we didn’t have entirely positive feelings about – and have a look at what she calls ‘‘a hugely significant insight into the process of political branding.” This project used Two-Chair work, facilitated by Nicky Forsythe to elicit people’s inner dialogue about Blair.
Here is the relevant chapter from Margaret’s book:
Political Branding Chapter.pdf
The other is a wonderful book by Joe Hayman, called British Voices. It is a fascinating, illuminating account of a journey around the British Isles, talking informally to more than 1,000 people – in the places where they lived – about their perception of life, culture, being British, opportunities and problems. Here are a couple of snippets that hopefully bring to life the vividness of these accounts – and how authentic they are compared to the filtered & staged comments we get on the news – or from the mouths of politicians who profess to know what we think.
From a few miles west of Thurso, on the Northernmost coast of mainland UK:
“We try to give this place a family feel, but to be honest it’s like that anyway round here. People look after their own: it’s old fashioned like that…They’ll tell you it’s less community oriented now, but compared to London…it’s just too fast there and in all the rushing around we forget about the human contact that really sustains us. I was a nurse for 19 years and I know that’s what ultimately matters.”
And, on a bleaker note, from a woman in Rotherham, Yorkshire:
“It’s a shithole,” she told me. I asked why.
“It just is,” she said. “Everything’s bad. People are scruffy…it used to be nice, but now it’s all just drunks and druggies. Nobody’s got any money – it’s just full of bookies and pawnbrokers. I’d leave tomorrow if I could.”
I asked if there was anything else I should write about Rotherham.
“Don’t come here,” she said and walked on.